Walking the tightrope

The movie

A feature-length documentary film
110 minutes - 16/9 - stereo
English and French subtitles available

What is happening behind the walls of a Medical-Educational Institute (IME)?

In order to answer this question, the IME, “La Pinède”, welcomed a film crew into its facility for an entire year.

The directors immersed themselves in the everyday lives of the children and teenagers, not only by following them in their different school and pre-professional learning activities but also by attending their various workshops on self-expression, socialisation and autonomy, both at the IME and externally.

What happens during these workshops? How are teaching methods adapted to the needs of the children? How are the children taken care of, both on an individual and collective basis? How are these kids given a chance to speak? How is the individuality of each child received? How is the process of becoming an adult considered? How do these professionals, through the links they forge, create a place for living and socialising outside of the institution?

Behind the commonly held images of “handicap” are puzzles that this deeply touching movie highlights through the questions that are asked regarding how the kids are welcomed and supported. The distinctive feature of the Institute is its practical and ethical approach, that every child and every teenager can find a place in society.

The tools offered, in accordance with their needs, complement this subjective dynamic. We observe that the choices that are made by this medical- social institution are dependent on its specifi c focus on teaching and education in order to support the children, teenagers and young adults in becoming players in their own freely chosen lives. Words and speech are the common thread of the story, words that make the connection between the singular and the collective, between the caregivers and the patients.

This documentary will interest those who wonder about education and schools, as well as those concerned with care and differences, creativity and living together.

The directors

Alain Albaric

Head of the Audiovisual Resource Centre of the Regional Institute of Social Work L-R, Alain Albaric has two careers, as a director and as a teacher. At the IRTS (Regional Institute for Social Work) he supports students in their research on social issues by producing films on field practices and creating teaching resources (interactive navigation DVDs).

Within the structure of the community production company “Hors-Champ Vidéo” (Off Camera Video), he directs corporate films, institutional films for external communication and films for environmental and social sciences research. He also pursues personal directing work for creative documentaries. Extracts of these films are available on the website


Stéphan Balay

Following a guiding principle, the “human element” and through his vision, Stéphan Balay wants to convey the stories of the people who deeply moved him. He has a diverse professional career (eight years at France 3 Alsace and six years at production companies in Lyon and Strasbourg) and his creative range encompasses different writing formats: documentaries, corporate audio-visual films, web-reporting, TV advertisements…

Some of his works include:
- PETIT À PETIT, PREMIERE ANNEE DE MATERNELLE [Little by little, first year of kindergarten] (documentary, 2005, 52 minutes,
France Télévisions);
SOLIDARITE AU NIGER [Water, salt, life, solidarity
journey to Niger] (documentary,2006, 60 minutes, DVD edition).


La Pinède

The Medico-Educational Institute La Pinède is located in Jacou, in the city of Montpellier, southern france. There are 18 children between the ages of 6 and 14, and 35 teenagers between the ages of 14 and 20, all with intellectual disabilities. 25 other teenagers continue with mainstream schooling and SESSAD (Specialised Home Education and Healthcare Service) ensures their follow-up. A boarding school for up to 10 people completes the institute. The educational, therapeutic and informative components revolve around various workshops.

A group of interdisciplinary caregivers enable the support of 50 personalised projects articulated by institutional work.


A DVD edition is available for sale for individuals and institutions & professionals on our online store.

DVD content:
- the film in original French version
- English subtitles
- French subtitles
- the teaser
- booklet 8 pages english/french

Games and sticks    1
Playing and listening    2
Children’s words    3
Children’s words - Looking back    4
Lifting pulleys and pushing for a fight    5
The bloggers    6
Workshops and green spaces towards…    7
Interlude    8
14 years old today    9
Sharing questions  10
Rainy morning  11
Discovering, elsewhere  12
Hosting here  13
Looking after each other,   14
amongst themselves       
Trust and secrets 15
Cross-cutting effects  16
At home, but not only  17
Today’s menu  18
Draw the story  19
Round-trips to earth  20

21  Participatory democracy
22  Mock exam and real red meat
23  How much do I owe?
24  Teenagers’ words
25  Teenagers’ words - Looking back
26  Parents, children
27  Review and therapeutic alliance
28  The institution in its entirety
29  I got cheated…
30  Full board
31  In case of failure
32  The body: top, bottom, fragile
33  Outsider art
34  Support for young plants
35  While waiting for the hail to fall
36  Learning together, at everyone’s own pace
37  Nascent words
38  Parents’ words
39  Conversations
40  Credits

The theatrical version

The CNC issued a permanent operating visa to the film for theatrical screenings.
We regularly organize screenings in partnership with associations and organizations.

The High-Definition DCP Digital Copy delivers exceptional quality projections.

The producers

F-34830 JACOU

10 rue des Tanneurs
F-34190 Ganges

371bis, route d'Uzès
F-30700 Saint-Quentin-la-Poterie